What: Block Party for Dignity, a celebration of the power of community and solidarity in the aftermath of three recent incidents involving Immigration and Customs Enforcement, local law enforcement and unknown white supremacists.
When: Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: 620 Hawkins St., Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Harrisonburg, Va.— On Saturday, June 3, Hawkins Street will be the site of the Block Party for Dignity, a celebration of the power of community and solidarity in the aftermath of three recent incidents involving Immigration and Customs Enforcement, local law enforcement, and unknown white supremacists. These events served to intimidate communities of color in Harrisonburg. The event will take place from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
On May 10, Harrisonburg resident Cesar Lara Rios was detained by ICE at his annual check-in, which was required after he was arrested by a National Park ranger for taking a piece of firewood in 2012. He could be deported any day now unless the Board of Immigration Appeals accepts to reopen his case. Cesar has lived in the United States for 10-years, and is the sole provider for his ill mother.
In the second incident on the evening of Friday, May 19, Hawkins Street was one site of two motor vehicle checkpoints set up by the Harrisonburg Police Department. The checkpoint, deployed at the end of the predominantly Black and Hispanic residential street, required all residents to show a license and registration before leaving the neighborhood. Eric Olson-Getty, a nearby resident who observed the checkpoint, says that “police officers were professional and courteous in all interactions, but the location of their enforcement action was clearly biased.”
Many residents and community leaders regard these incidents as attempts by law enforcement to intimidate and criminalize communities of color by displaying their power over the bodies of black and brown neighbors. As such, the detention of Cesar Lara Rios and the blockade of Hawkins Street are each a violation of the dignity of these residents of the “Friendly City.”
The block party comes on the heels of a solidarity march on Wolfe Street that took place in response to white supremacist graffiti found on telephone poles, a sign that the community is energized to confront violence against communities of color. The event will be an opportunity for the neighborhood and the broader Harrisonburg community to build on this energy to foster a community that protects and defends the dignity of targeted groups. The event will feature music, children’s activities, performers, speakers, and food from Pupuseria y Tienda Latina el Milagro.
The Block Party for Dignity is sponsored by Better Together/Mejores Juntos, Virginia Organizing, Harrisonburg Indivisible, NAACP, Comite Salvadoreño de Paisanos Unidos (COSPU), and UFCW.
To interview a spokesperson for this event, please contact Beth Schermerhorn at (804)-221-6655 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Organizing is a non-partisan statewide grassroots organization that brings people together to create a more just Virginia.